Raiyon Smith: Model on the rise

Modeling for a variety of Kansas City companies, senior Raiyon Smith is making a name for herself.


Senior Raiyon Smith poses for a photo while waiting to rehearse for the Kritiq fashion show Nov. 3. Smith walked in the fashion show at the College Basketball Experience Nov. 12. photo by Anna Louise Sih

by Kendall Lanier and Anna Louise Sih

Flashback to Raiyon Smith’s first ever fashion show. Hardly being able to sleep the night before, her stomach is in a tangle of nerves. As she takes her first step onto the runway, all of her worries seem to go away and she instantly feels comfortable. It is a feeling like no other. She feels like she is on top of the world.

“It felt so good to be the main attraction and be full of confidence walking down that runway” Smith said.

Two and a half years later, Smith is a makeup artist and brand ambassador, doing photoshoots and runway modeling. 

A normal teenager involved in everyday high school activities often receives positive comments like “You should really model, you’d be great.” One day she finally listened and began starting photoshoots and testing out the modeling world.

Always a fan of the popular show “America’s Next Top Model,” Smith quickly picked up modeling tips and tricks including Tyra Bank’s famous “smize” which means to smile with your eyes. She is self taught and has learned from watching her peers she has met in the modeling world.

Working as a freelance model she is her own personal manager, networking as much as she can.

“It can be extremely time consuming preparing and planning on the weekends for upcoming jobs,” Smith said.

Smith’s process before shoots and shows depends on what the person in charge is asking for. Some shoots or shows will do her makeup and hair for her and other times she will have to come ready.

Her biggest way to prepare is by not eating right before her event. She feels that it will alter the way she looks. If she does eat, it will be something very small. Smith is very focused on what look she wants to acheive for that particular shoot or show, and will do whatever it takes.

“If I have a goal to look really fierce in this shoot or down this runway, I’m gonna do whatever it takes to look fierce,” Smith said.

With being a brand ambassador for local KC companies comes doing photo shoots wearing a certain company’s supplies. Smith has worked with clothing and makeup companies such as Positive Vibes KC, Zosha Boutique and several others.

The longer Smith has been in the industry, she has realized her talent cannot be used for free. She makes a profit from working with certain companies if people use her coupon for that particular brand.

Smith has a large support system throughout this process. Her friends, family, mentors, and followers help to cheer her on. Over time, she has realized it is important to learn anything you can from anyone.

“Just by listening to the advice of my close friends who I’ve met in the modeling world or even just strangers who reach out to me, I’ve become a better model,” Smith said.

Social media has definitely helped Smith to get the work she has done out there. With a large following on Instagram, there are many people who come across her page and reach out to her in hopes of working with her.

“Instagram is my major social media base,” Smith said. “Different people around KC get the opportunity to see what modeling work I have done.”

Similar to any other industry, with modeling comes a competitive world. Everyone is going after the same goal of wanting as much exposure as possible. Smith describes it as a race.

“Everyone wants to be that top model that everyone knows and sees, and if you don’t have that, it’s like ‘what do I need to do?’,” Smith said. “You want the best for yourself.”

Another aspect that is very prominent in the modeling world are stereotypes. Fortunately, Smith has not experienced this yet in her career. A popular stereotype is many companies want really thin, tall women. This idea has started to change in today’s society as Smith generally works for people who want a more everyday, common look.

Along with modeling, Smith is also a self-trained makeup artist. Growing up trying on her mom’s makeup, putting it on as best as she could, sparked an early interest for Smith. Her mom saw this interest and bought her her own makeup to wear whenever she wanted.

Smith developed a strong passion for makeup and became more skilled over time. Just recently Smith started her own makeup business which is currently run out of her home.

Smith generally does people’s makeup for big events like homecoming, prom or any other events. Smith runs it as a real business and offers discounts and specials for different occasions.

Smith hopes to pursue modeling and makeup artistry as a side job rather than a full-time career in the future.

“I have bigger goals, which is running my own clothing business, doing fashion design and styling,” Smith said.

Modeling has definitely done a lot for Smith. Through every shoot or show, she gains more confidence. With modeling being such an independent industry, she has gained more independence and responsibility.

“Through modeling, I’ve met a lot of friends that I didn’t even know lived in KC,” Smith said. “Modeling has really helped me to gain a lot of things that I haven’t [had] before. It brings a lot of networking and a lot of awareness to small businesses around the area.”